This past weekend, Alyssa, Nate (our fellow volunteer) and I borrowed a car and went on a roadtrip throughout Israel! Friday, Nate and I planned our excursion and figured out directions on how to get to each place. We planned to go first to Tiberius and see the Sea of Galilee, then head up to Capernaum, then across the country to Caesarea and the Mediterranean. Saturday morning I woke up around 7am, did my hair and got all our beach stuff together. I made hummus, turkey and cheese sandwiches for us to eat and packed them up in plastic grocery bags (since we don't have ziplocks or plastic wrap). I've discovered a very successful way of using them in place of those things, though! We set out on our journey around 9am, with our backpacks and snacks and headed to the parking lot a couple blocks over.
We got in the car, then realized that one of the roads we were planning to take was closed because of Shabbat...so I, with my excellent navigation skills, suggested another route, which ended up being much more straightforward than the original one! Shabbat ended up being the perfect day to go, because there was hardly any traffic. So we were off, headed to Tiberius. After about two hours, we saw signs for Nazareth, so we detoured and drove through there a bit; we didn't get out, but saw the city, and decided it seemed like a decent place for Jesus to spend His childhood. Then we headed to Tiberius, drove through the city a bit, which looked strikingly like downtown St. Pete (Beach Drive area)! We found a place to park close to the Sea of Galilee and then went down to the rocky shore. I love rocky shores.
We didn't swim there, just climbed on the rocks. Then we ate our sandwiches and some Doritos we had found at the market the day before, and, of course, Twizzlers! Then, we set out again on the road which supposedly leads around the sea of Galilee, to go to Capernaum. However, after driving on that road for about an hour, we assumed we missed it and turned around (I think it was actually just farther than we were expecting...). So we decided to go ahead to Caesarea. But, on the way, my "excellent navigation skills" turned sour, and I directed us in the wrong direction, which led us to Haifa (upon seeing signs for it throughout the whole trip, we determined that Haifa was "everywhere;" everywhere we went, Haifa was also that way). Eventually we decided we should just find somewhere that has internet so we can look up where we are and how to get where we're going. At one point, we said we should just go where the Spirit leads us, and immediately after that I noticed a sign pointing to Aroma (Israel's version of Starbucks)...no surprise there. But we also almost immediately saw signs for the road we had been looking for, so we followed those. Then I suggested a wrong turn again, and we found the Mediterranean, just in Haifa, not Casesarea. So we got out of the car and checked it out - it had really course, dark sand - so different from Florida beaches! Haifa seemed like a really cool place...it had big huge mountains, but it was also right on the coast! So we backtracked back to where I misled us, and followed the signs again, finally heading in the right direction. When we got to Caesarea, we headed straight for the beach, and saw a huge Roman aqueduct. So, like the rocks in Galilee, we climbed it!
It runs parallel to the beach. The sand there was more like Florida sand. Then we went on the beach itself and swam in the sea, etc. The water had a lot more waves than the gulf, and it was really clear! Then we went back up on the aqueduct and jumped around in some sand dunes. Then we drove over to the main ruins of Caesarea and, again, climbed all over those! I took an art history class last semester on Greco-Roman art, so it was really interesting to see a lot of the things I had learned about. None of the ruins were off limits. There were people having picnics and little kids running around all over the ruins, and they still use the ampitheater for outdoor concerts! That would have been really cool to see. There were big columns, arches, marble baths, mosaic floors, all sorts of things.
It was also right on the beach, so that's where we watched the sunset - it was right in front of us, and one of the most beautiful ever!
After that, we left (this is when I took over driving the car) and headed towards Tel Aviv (because that's how we would get to the road back to Jerusalem) and saw a McDonald's sign on the way, so we attempted to find it; instead we found a big mall, so we ate pizza in the food court instead of McDonald's. Olives and cheese on half, Pepperoni (real, thick pepperoni), onions and cheese on the other half. Then we got watermelon sherbert popsicles on the way out. These are Alyssa's and my new favorite treat. Then we started to head home - we went through Tel Aviv, which has things lit up everywhere. Buildings had lights all around them, even the overpasses had LED lights (like rope lights) on them! Finally, after about an hour, or hour and a half, we started seeing signs for Jerusalem, and made it back home without even looking at the directions I wrote. It felt great to have our own little car and just go wherever we wanted to. It was undoubtedly the best trip we've taken so far!
In other news, we leave a week from tomorrow and will arrive back in Tampa on Friday the 19th around 9am! We are both so excited to see everyone again, and we're so so so so so thankful for all your continued prayers. And don't worry, we'll still have at least one more post before we leave. ;)